As guests come to Ocean Point Inn, they bring questions about “Maine Food.” They want to know “what the locals eat!” The questions have me thinking about what foods are traditional Maine foods??
Of course, everyone thinks of Maine lobster – steamed, baked stuffed – like our house recipe for Linekin Bay Lobster, lobster rolls, lobster stew, lobster salad and more. Steamed clams and mussels are often served with the lobster. Folks also look for a good fish chowder, commonly made with haddock in this area, and served with chowder crackers and sweet pickles. Our Ocean Point Inn Crab Cakes can’t be beat – made with fresh Maine crabmeat. Oysters, farmed right here on the Damariscotta River, are great raw on the half shell, stewed or fried.
The most common dessert with a Lobster Dinner is Blueberry Pie, the Maine State Dessert, made with wild Maine blueberries. Our Ocean Point Inn pies have people coming back for more! An older blueberry dessert that I love is Blueberry Dumplings. You boil the wild blueberries with sugar and drop the dumpling batter into the berries to cook – delish with homemade vanilla ice cream. Blueberry Cobbler, Crisp and Grunt are wonderful. Do you know the differences among them? Grunts, Pandowdy and Slumps are varieties of the Cobbler. Bettys and Buckles are made with a batter similar to cake batter. These desserts are served with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. The names sound unusual but, trust me, they are all delicious.
Needhams, which were first made in Portland, Maine, in 1872 by Reverend Needham, are a wonderful candy treat. Believe it or not, they are made with mashed potato. You would never know it to eat one! The coconut and chocolate are the flavors that you taste.
Whoopie Pies have always been an old Maine favorite but are now popular in more of the country. Williams Sonoma even sells a pan for whoopee pies! Chocolate with a white crème filling is traditional but pumpkin with a cream cheese filling is yummy in the fall.
In addition to beautiful foliage, fall in Maine brings Baked Bean Church Suppers. Some bake the beans in the ground. They are traditionally served with “brown bread” which was originally a very dark bread with raisins that was baked in a coffee can. As a child, the round bread showing the rings from the can was fascinating to me.
Venison, deer meat, shows up on many Maine tables during the fall hunting season. There are sometimes fundraisers offering a “Wild Game Dinner” which includes venison and more exotic meats like moose, bear and raccoon.
New England Boiled Dinner is popular in the fall as the root vegetables are harvested from the garden. Cabbage, carrots, turnip, beets and potatoes are cooked with corned beef. The flavors blend together for a delicious meal.
As the temperatures rise in March, the maple sap starts to run and maple syrup season is underway. “Sugar on Snow,” hot maple syrup poured over the frozen snow makes a sweet sticky candy that is served with doughnuts and dill pickles. Hard to tell how that combination got started!
Once the grass is growing, the dandelions pop up. Many Mainers love to pick the early dandelion greens before they flower. The greens are traditionally cooked with salt pork and served with vinegar.
Fiddleheads, a member of the fern family, are also popular.
These days they are readily available in the grocery stores. They are fun to pick and pickled with dill they make a very tasty appetizer.
How many of these traditional Maine foods have you eaten? Look for them on your next trip to Maine, staying with us at Ocean Point Inn!